female adult student expresses emotions

Whether you’re going back to school to continue earning that degree you started years ago or you’ve decided to pursue your college studies for the first time, this life-enhancing decision was inevitably preceded by first weighing lots of factors, including: your schedule, your finances, your support system, and your career goals. Having decided that there is no better time than right now to put your academic goals into action, the more prepared you are, the more enjoyable the adventure will be. As you embark on this wonderful, exciting, and challenging academic journey, it’s important not only to be aware of the different emotions you will feel along the way, but also how to handle them when they show up!

#3 – Doubt

Challenges and roadblocks (a.k.a. doubt) will come. That’s just a part of the journey. Maybe your laptop won’t work right when you have an assignment due in a few hours. Perhaps your boss will ask you to work overtime and you haven’t posted the weekly assignment in your classroom yet and it’s due by midnight. Maybe you’re enrolled in the hardest class you’ve ever taken. Roadblocks on your journey will show up unexpectedly. You’ll be cruising along taking another phenomenal course when all of a sudden “Bam!” a roadblock appears and it stops you right in your tracks. The roadblock might seem too big and so unfathomable that you might even consider stopping permanently and not going any further on your journey.

How to handle it: Overcome it

Whether you figure out a way to go through it, avoid it, or remove it, a roadblock is a permanent part of the landscape. You can’t let it stop you. Doubting yourself is not part of your ultimate plan for your life. When it shows up, simply take a moment to assess what it will take to overcome it, and then make your way past it.

#4 – Resistance to Change

While it might be true that most people are familiar with that famous saying by an ancient Greek philosopher – “The only thing that is constant is change” – being aware of that saying doesn’t make it easier to accept. Change is hard for most of us. From changing habits, beliefs, routines, and goals, to changing what matters most to us, how we choose to spend our time, and who inspires us – change is uncomfortable. Yet, change enables us to blossom and to become the person we were meant to be.

How to handle it: Be mindful of it

When you find yourself not wanting to give up your routine Friday nights out with your friends (to stay home and study instead), or you are resistant to mastering the art of academic writing (because conversational writing is so much easier), acknowledge that a change is inevitable in order to accomplish your goals, and then accept it. Ignoring it or fighting it is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent doing something productive.


With every big decision in life and with every big change, different emotions will come and go. Understanding that it’s ok to feel the way you are feeling, that you’re not alone on your journey, and that you are exactly where you are supposed to be will help you enjoy your academic journey. While earning your degree is the goal, all the experiences, accomplishments, and friendships you make along that journey will be just as integral to your development and success as a contributing member of society as the actual degree.

Watch for the remaining two feelings in an upcoming post!

Catch up on this series:

6 Emotional Stages Every Adult Student Experiences: #1 & #2

6 Emotional Stages Every Adult Student Experiences: #5 & #6

Watch Student Testimonials

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